Modernity on Endless Trial

Leszek Kolakowski, Author, Agnieszka Kolakowska, Translator, Wolfgang Freis, Translator University of Chicago Press $42 (267p) ISBN 978-0-226-45045-2
Kolakowski ( The Presence of Myth ) urges caution in embracing the modern. For example, in Marxism, presumed by many to be a scientific, modernist creed, he sees ``the same yearning after the archaic community'' that drove Nazism. These stimulating, deeply learned essays by a University of Chicago philosopher grapple with the pitfalls of both ideological and religious systems, and the capacity of the open society to destroy itself. ``Conservative,'' ``liberal'' and ``socialist'' are no longer mutually exclusive political positions, argues Kolakowski. Perceiving an innate human need for religion, he ponders: ``To reject the sacred is also to reject the idea of evil.'' Along with essays on the exile as outsider, self-deceptions of intellectuals and the Christian roots of modern humanism, there are droll spoofs of philosophy (``The General Theory of Not-Gardening'') and of historical scholarship (``Emperor Kennedy Legend''). (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 03/18/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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